Is it possible to leverage functionality without sacrificing integration? Will you get the support necessary from radiation therapy equipment vendors to deliver the best care to your patients?
For the first time, KLAS has published a comprehensive report including medical and radiation oncology software and radiation therapy equipment to answer these questions, and help leaders understand the big picture of who and what to look out for.
The recently published Oncology 2020 report brings together data from the following four market segments:
- Medical oncology software
- Radiation oncology software
- Radiation therapy equipment
- Radiation therapy treatment planning
When it comes to aging equipment and complex IT solutions, it can feel like technological innovations in these market segments outpace the rate at which oncology practices and comprehensive cancer centers can implement them. But from the perspective of most providers and patients, they can’t come fast enough. That’s why it’s so important to have the right information when making these massive purchase decisions, which are a financial investment but often times involve change management.
Who to Look For
The three types of oncology vendors covered in the report are as follows:
- Comprehensive oncology offerings from Elekta and Varian (these vendors offer solutions across all four market segments examined in this report).
- Niche solutions from Accuray, Flatiron, McKesson Specialty Health, and Philips, which have oncology specific solutions in one market segment examined in this report.
- Medical oncology applications from broad healthcare vendors Cerner and Epic. These are vendors offer oncology solutions as an extension of their broader HIT portfolio and play in one market segment examined in this report.
What to Look For
Each type of vendor has its own strengths, as well as areas of needed improvement. To provide an overview of what we found, we’ve identified three main themes, or needs, that stretch across each of the four market segments:
- The need for up-to-date functionality.
- The need for strong integration.
- The need for good vendor support.
Though each theme tells a different story for each of the four market segments, looking at vendors with these themes in mind is an effective way to visualize the snapshot this report provides into the medical and radiation oncology software world, as well as radiation therapy equipment.
It’s no surprise that the functionality of software or equipment will depend on the specific vendor and scenario. But at a high level, we saw that the broader the vendor, the less functionality solutions had.
For example, some Elekta and Varian customers felt that radiation oncology was a bigger focus for these vendors compared to medical oncology, though both still offer a comprehensive medical oncology solution. On the other hand, customers of McKesson Specialty Health and Flatiron, which focus only on medical oncology software, rated these vendors’ functionality very high.
Highly functional specialization is nothing new to the space, but with the entrance of oncology solutions from broad healthcare providers, we are seeing many vendors question whether functionality outweighs the benefits of integration.
When it comes to radiation and medical oncology software, integration is absolutely critical. It was a special topic of interest when conducting this research, because some providers are looking to see how it will affect their workflow if they move toward medical oncology applications offered from an enterprise EHR vendor.
A certain polarity presented itself for integration experiences depending on the type of vendor. Both vendors with comprehensive oncology offerings and broad-based vendors scored high in integration, but for very different reasons.
Considering comprehensive oncology vendors focus solely on oncology, they do a good job integrating across medical and radiation oncology. Out of necessity, they also integrate well with other solutions in the broader spectrum of the healthcare continuum.
Conversely, since some of the broad healthcare vendors do offer a wide suite of software, they integrate seamlessly with themselves, but can face challenges integrating with other radiation oncology systems.
Building strong provider-to-vendor relationships is key for provider success in each market segment. But the need for solid vendor support is especially apparent for radiation therapy equipment. If the equipment is down, patients can’t be treated. That domino effect causes a whole series of problems that can lead to treatment setbacks.
One provider executive (a VP of oncology) summed it up perfectly, saying, “The field service team… will bend over backward to keep us up and running. We have had them here on nights, weekends, and anytime we have needed them. Even when we have frustrations with the vendor, the team has always come through.”
We need to do better. It’s not that we aren’t trying, but we can all agree that there are problems that still need to be solved. Providers are still looking at different systems for data, which, at the end of the day, is not helpful for patient care.
If you or your organization touches oncology at all, look into our full report for help to make your most crucial decisions. The technology won’t stop improving, and neither will you.